A little while ago, I was looking into the possibilities of not only testing to see how much energy there was in old alkaline batteries but if I could also find a way to recharge them. The reason I wanted make this happen was because I found an old box full of these old batteries. I completely forgot I even had them because they were destined to be recycled years ago. So my search begins on Amazon to find out if I can buy an inexpensive charger that is able to recharge old alkaline batteries. To my amazement, with the right type of charger, you can bring dead batteries back to life. Not only can you recharge rechargeable batteries but you can also recharge dead alkaline batteries! I was blown away! If you want to go directly to Amazon to check out the Max Power, Click Here!
Like most people these days, when a flashlight, remote control, and any other electronic gadgets would stop working, I would throw the old batteries into my recycling box. I would either swap them out for new batteries or I would buy myself some rechargeable batteries. Since I’m not the wasteful type, like most preppers I’m certain, I use a significant assortment of rechargeable batteries. Most rechargeable batteries in my inventory will last me many years, even while sitting on the shelf.
During my brief research on Amazon, I stumbled upon a rechargeable device that can bring dead alkaline batteries indeed back to life! There are a few on the market that can achieve this task, but I wanted to find out what was the difference between a twenty dollar vs. a 50 dollar charger.
I then found myself on YouTube. I wanted to search YouTube to find out if there was a charger that was better than others and to also find out if these chargers actually worked the way they are being advertised. So I finally made a choice after reading a lot of reviews. The Maximal Power Universal Rapid Charger FC999 won the race. Sure, it looks like a device the kids from “Stranger Things” would use but heck, if it works who am I to complain.
The Gear You Will Need
- Old and preferably dead alkaline batteries.
- Battery tester under $10.
- Battery Charger explicitly designed to recharge old alkaline batteries.
- Testing gear such as a flashlight. You can use any electronic device you want but I like to use a flashlight in this kind of test. With a flashlight, you can determine if the battery is actually charging to a sufficient amount by seeing how bright the flashlight is. It would prove a success if the flashlight is as bright with these recharged alkaline batteries as with new cells.
Maximal Power Universal Rapid Charger FC999
The Battery Tester
As I’m ordering the Maximal Power FC999, I thought to myself that I might need a battery charge tester. I found an inexpensive battery tester on Amazon fairly quickly after reading the reviews of multiple testers. This battery tester is very easy to use and does not require batteries to operate. This tester is able to test AAA, AA, C, D, 9V & button cell batteries. It has an easy to read, color-coded reading meter: –
Red range = Replace
Yellow range = Low Power –
Green range = Good Simple Battery Tester
Sorting Through My Dead Alkaline Batteries
I’ve been saving dead alkaline batteries for years. I do this because we have a battery recycling program at my work and I just make it a habit to bring a bag full once in a while. I came across these dead batteries while I was sorting through old boxes in my storage container. It was just as a coincidence that I was watching a science video on YouTube about how to recharge old alkaline batteries, so here I am!
The box of alkaline batteries was pretty darn full which was great because that meant I had a lot of raw material to work with. While waiting for my battery tester and alkaline charger to arrive, I sorted through the box, weeding out any leaking or exploded batteries. I also got rid of the oddball batteries such as old cell phone and camera batteries. The dead cells spanned the gamut of brands and sizes; from Duracell to no-name brand batteries I picked up at the dollar store. Even an old N size car remote battery that Max Power claims it can charge.
I consider myself lucky to have most of these batteries intact and ready to charge! Something to keep in mind as you go through the sorting process is that if there is even a single leaker in the box, the residue can spread on to other batteries so it helps to have a rag handy to wipe each battery off to make sure you’re not throwing out a good battery. If you even suspect that a battery has leaked, or if shows any rust or corrosion, don’t take a chance. Throw the bad ones back into the recycle box.
Why Alkaline Batteries Leak
Alkaline batteries are prone to leaking potassium hydroxide, a caustic agent that can cause respiratory, eye and skin irritation. All batteries gradually self-discharge (whether installed in a device or not) and dead batteries will eventually leak.
Extremely high temperatures can also cause batteries to rupture and leak (such as in a car during summer). High temps will also decrease the shelf life of the battery. The reason for leaks is that as batteries discharge, either through usage or gradual self-discharge, the chemistry of the cells changes and some hydrogen gas is generated. This out-gassing increases pressure in the battery. Eventually, the excess pressure either ruptures the insulating seals at the end of the battery or the outer metal canister or both.
In addition, as the battery ages, its steel outer canister may gradually corrode or rust, which can further contribute to containment failure. Once a leak has formed due to corrosion of the outer steel shell, potassium hydroxide absorbs carbon dioxide from the air to form a feathery crystalline structure of potassium carbonate that grows and spreads out from the battery over time, following along metal electrodes to circuit boards, where it commences oxidation of copper tracks and other components, leading to permanent circuitry damage. The leaking crystalline growths can also emerge from seams around battery covers to form a furry coating outside the device, that corrodes any objects in contact with the leaking cell. This information is courtesy of Wikipedia!
My Gear Has Arrived!
I can now begin the process by testing all of the intact batteries in the box. Much to my surprise, there were a number of batteries that tested “fully charged”. I now believe that what commonly happens is that, for example, a remote control or flashlight stops working due to low or dead batteries. You throw the batteries into your recycle box and install new ones. But in reality, only one of the two, or three batteries are actually dead. So in effect, you are throwing out one discharged battery while the rest of them are perfectly usable batteries.
I have a television remote that I always have to shake to make it work since the batteries are almost dead and I don’t have any replacements at hand. As I’m checking both batteries, I discover that one was completely dead while the other one was showing half power after placing both of them in the battery tester. So even if you’re not going to buy the battery charger, I would suggest purchasing the battery tester for this reason alone!
Let’s See How This Alkaline Battery Recharger Works
Now here is the deal with this alkaline battery recharger. It has four separate charging slots that operate independently from each other. This means that you can mix and match battery sizes (AA, AAA, C, D) without a problem. It also has a center 9V battery chamber. As I stated above, this charger is also capable of charging Ni-cd and Ni-MH batteries, but I only experimented it on Alkaline batteries.
There is a slider switch that allows you to select the type of batteries you are charging, they can not and should not be mixed and matched by the model (although, as I mentioned, various sizes of the same type work just fine.) Oh and also, DO NOT try to recharge a Lithium-Ion battery, this device is not designed for that.
Yes, It Really Does Work!
I’ve had a couple of battery chargers, way back when. But I always wished there was a way to recharge my dead alkaline batteries. I’m sure battery manufacturers have their technical reasons why this is a bad idea and make no mistake, one of those reasons is that they want you to keep tossing and buying batteries.
So this mystical alkaline charger never seemed to cross my path… until now. I started with a few D size generic batteries, branded by an inexpensive battery manufacturer, so I wasn’t expecting much. Using my new battery tester, I made sure the batteries were completely dead. I was wondering if I should go get some safety goggles in case these batteries explode! Of course, I should be fine since I never stumbled upon a review that mentioned this kind of event.
I placed the D size batteries into the charger, one by one, with a bit of skepticism of course. The LCD on the Max Power charger began flashing as it read the batteries, then the screen switched to “Charging”! After about 8 hours, the charger light went from red to green, indicating a completed charge. I placed my freshly recharged batteries into a camping lantern, and BAM! Light! Not just any light, it was bright, not dim like I sort of expected.
There is no question that I was a bit pessimistic when I inserted the batteries into the charger for the first time. But there was no smoke and no explosion, only four fully charged batteries! How could this be that almost no one knows about this device?
The Manufacturers Note
The brief manual that came with the charger stated that alkaline batteries can be charged from 75% to 90% of their original capacity. It further said that the batteries should be fully drained before recharging. I did find, however, that as a practical matter, the fully drained batteries came up “BAD” and could not be recharged at all. So remember that and try to recharge them before they go bad. Most times when your batteries stop working, it doesn’t mean they are dead, it just means they don’t have sufficient power to activate the device they are trying to activate.
My New Assembly Line
Bolstered by the success of my first experiment, I went through my box of dead alkaline batteries and I soon had an array of miscellaneous batteries lined up like an assembly line, ready to be charged. For my second charging attempt, I decided to go for something a bit more challenging. I pick up four of the oldest AAA batteries that I had in my lineup. As I popped them in one by one, the Max Power read two of them as “bad”. I tried those ones in different chambers, just to be sure, but the Max Power rejected them every single time.
I grabbed two more AAA batteries an placed them on the charger. The Max Power began to charge all 4 AAA’ selected. After only an hour later, all the lights on the Max Power were already turned green. I suspected that maybe my second attempt at charging my old alkaline AAA batteries had failed; since the charging process was so brief. I popped 2 batteries out of the charger and into one of my tactical flashlight and clicked on! Guess what, it came on, and its bright! The light was as bright as if using brand new batteries!
I soon learned that while this Max Power can charge pretty much anything, it didn’t mean these old alkaline batteries were suddenly as good as a brand new one. It did, however, charge every one of my cells except for four that the Max Power indicated as “BAD”. Now I have a fresh pile of recharged alkaline batteries to experiment.
That’s when I discovered that the manufacturer’s information was accurate; the owners manual says it can only charge alkalines to about 80% power. It soon became evident with high drain devices like my wireless headphones. If I use these recharged alkalines on low power electronics, like LED flashlights, remote controls, clocks, etc., then they work perfectly fine. But if I put them in a high drain electronic, that draws constant power; then the batteries will quickly show their limitations.
I put a couple of AAs into a specialty lamp that I own. The lamp continuously ran for about 12 hours, before it began dimming. The alkaline battery ultimately died 8 hours later (compared to double that amount of time with brand new batteries).
So while this Maximal Power can indeed recharge alkaline batteries, it’s clear that they are best suited for low-drain devices that only draw power from the batteries intermittently. So don’t go charging a bunch of D cells for your emergency survival kit. I recommend charging alkalines for less important uses. However, this should still prove to be a money saver, all the same. I also think that this device is a great tool for any preppers. Preppers can use this gadget during times of crisis, just be sure to have a generator so the Max Power can do its job.
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